Published: 4th June 2014
Borth Station Museum opened in 2011 as a community heritage centre thanks to the efforts of a small group of local people. With the single platform and canopy meeting the needs of Arriva Trains Wales passengers on the line between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth the old station building was falling into dereliction. A local couple acting as ‘Station Minders’ looking after the gardens etc. around the station came up with the idea of breathing new life into the disused buildings.
A community-based group got behind the idea and talked Network Rail into refurbishing the old waiting room, ticket office and station manager’s office and letting them set up a museum to show how it looked in the 1900s before train services and passenger facilities were rationalised.
Items started arriving – spread around at first to avoid the museum looking too bare – and kept on coming. Today the rooms are packed with hundreds of items arranged to recapture the glory days of this station serving a seaside town. The Borth Station Volunteers, now numbering around 30 supporters of the station, have won awards from Arriva Trains Wales, Network Rail (as part of its National Environmental Award Scheme) and Tidy Wales, and received a Railway Heritage Awards highly commended certificate.
Borth lies roughly midway between Aberystwyth and the estuary of Afon Dyfi. Faced by the Irish Sea to the west, the narrow strip of the small town is served by the Cambrian Coast line, behind which lay miles of flat marshlands. Forming a striking contrast with the mountains of Snowdonia to the north and attractive hills of Ceridigion rising in the distance to the east and south it is no surprise this landscape drew the attention of the producers of the TV drama Hinterland.
This atmospheric Police drama filmed in both English and Welsh with broodingly thunderous facial expressions regularly replacing the need for dialogue has been tagged ‘Scandi-noir’ – the Welsh equivalent of acclaimed sub-titled dramas Wallander and The Killing originating from Sweden and Denmark.
Hinterland recently finished its first run on BBC TV, after previous airing on Welsh language channel S4C. Borth was lined up as the location for the fourth episode of the initial series. Discovery of the gem of a museum within the station resulted in the script being re-written with the models and railwayana becoming a central feature of the plot. Indeed, features discovered on the model railway in the building provided vital confirmation to DCI Tom Mathias (played by Richard Harrington) that he had cracked the case – with an additional spice of menace in the plot, found just too late to prevent a second death on the marshes.
The museum, run entirely by volunteers, is opened on four days a week. Entry is free, but you will surely feel moved to drop a donation in the box provided to help maintain this little gem. While the location may seem remote, rail access to the Cambrian Coast Line is easy with straightforward links from Llandudno and Colwyn Bay on the north Wales coast, or Shrewsbury and onwards to Birmingham.
The station and museum do not offer refreshment facilities but there is a wide selection of eating places in the town just a short walk from the station.